Trump has been critical of now-former AG Jeff Sessions for some time now - more than a year - largely around his recusal from the "Russia investigation". Is there any reasoning provided as to why he chose just after the midterm elections to fire him? If his goal was to influence the investigation this seems too-little-too-late, and the political fallout has been minimal so the timing is confusing unless this would have been presumed to cause far more fallout earlier on.

I am aware that we cannot know what Trump is actually thinking, I am asking for stated reasons by himself or those inside the administration.

  • 3
    If formally Sessions did resign (note the "formally" part), I doubt that the WH will have provided a reason for "firing" him.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:36
  • Given past experience with the Trump administration, are "stated reasons" likely to have any relation to fact? Seems more likely that Trump saw the election results, and picked on firing Sessions as a way to relieve his temper tantrum :-)
    – jamesqf
    Nov 13, 2018 at 19:11
  • The opposition stated that Sessions was one step away from being in the Klan back in 2017. He turned out to be one of the most Law-And-Order kind of AG but he is not a fighter. With the new Democrat congress promising 87 subpoenas, Trump will need a fighter in the position. The Mueller thing will amount to nothing. Nov 13, 2018 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


According to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House received Sessions' resignation letter early on 11/7, and the President accepted his resignation that day. No direct motive has been stated, but Sanders has expressed Trump's frustration with Sessions for months.

According to unnamed insiders and the Democrats, he was fired the day after Midterms to avoid riling up the Democratic (and Republican, to some degree) base right before the elections but giving Whitaker 70-80 days of access to Mueller before the 'recess appointment' excuse is no longer feasible.

Why does Trump want Whitaker to have access to Mueller during that time? Nobody's sure. Pelosi and Schumer seem to believe Whitaker was made acting AG in order to fire Mueller. Others point to his past statements about his stated strategy to defund Mueller (to make him unable to function but not fired), but that's not feasible, considering the budget isn't passed for several months, long after Whitaker is gone. Personally? I think any early access to Mueller would be able to gather useful information that Whitaker can bring back to Trump's defense team, and as he's now law enforcement, he can commit the procedural 'dirtying the water' sorts of moves that get cases thrown out.

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    Whitaker isn't a recess appointment, which lasts until the end of the next session, i.e. until 2019. Whitaker is an acting appointment, which lasts until a real appointment is confirmed or a recess appointment is made.
    – Brythan
    Nov 13, 2018 at 0:39

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